Russia TLIG Magazine

T R U E L I F E I N G O D 46 Your Eminences, Your Graces, Your Excellencies, Rev. Fathers, Sisters and members of True life in God, invited friends, and all protocol observed. I have been asked to address you in 10 minutes on the Issues of Inter religious dialogue among the religions. As I stand before you, I thank God for bringing us together as His children for this wonderful and important occasion and then my sincere thanks go to Mrs. Vassula and her team for organizing such a beautiful occasion and inviting us to take part in this gathering. We thank them for their great work. First of all, what is interfaith dialogue? It refers to cooperation, constructive and positive interactions between people of different religious traditions. Jesus said, “Peace I leave you, my Peace I give you” John 14:27. The Peace we receive from God is the true peace not the one the world gives us. Peace is essential for everybody today, we Christians are called to live with Christ in peace and at the same time as agents of Peace. The question is how we can promote true peace in this divided world and among the divided religions. We experience divisions, hypocrisy, hatred, pride, defensiveness, judgments, lack of forgiveness, lack of respect, negative criticism and lack of true love among nations, neighbors, families, groups and above all among the Christian denominations. Whyaresuchdisagreement,confusions,contradictions, defensive attitude happening among the children of God /Christians. Wasn’t it God’s plan for everybody to live peacefully? Didn’t Jesus pray for the Peace and Unity of His disciples? Didn’t Jesus say “if two or three gather together in my name, I will be in their midst”? Do we think Jesus agrees with our disagreement and disunity? Do our apostolic traditions contradict each other or is it our own interpretation of the Word of God or the understanding and decision of our fore fathers that we worship in different ways and follow our own teachings? It is clear that over centuries quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims, between Christians and Jews. Are we not brothers in God? Are we not created by Him? Are we not descendants of Abraham and one family of God? Are we not trying to reach in our own ways to Him, through faith, prayer and worship? Can’t we forget the past negative experiences and make sincere efforts to achieve mutual understanding for the better future of everybody? Can’t we Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews together work to preserve and promote peace and justice and moral values? Don’t our Gospel and Qur’an speak often pardon and reconciliation? ”Those who have placed their faith in God should set their hearts on the practice of what is good.” (Paul to Titus 3:8) Once Pope Paul VI said: “We have high regard for Muslims. They worship God who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth and brings his creation to perfection.” What do we see best now for the current generations and the generations still to come. When we speak of Christianity, the Fathers of the Church thought the church they wanted to be has been that way and should not be blamed for that as they looked that way might be better to walk in true faith. But unfortunately it magnified more darkness, separations, loss of souls, isolations and more confusions among denominations and multiplied its divisions on hundreds. In such a way the children of God experienced at the same time blessings and confusions. But still we, as the current generation, do we feel responsible to re-look at it and open a space for dialogue, peace, unity and reconciliation among Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews, as the right His Excellency Bishop Markos Gebremedhin Vicar Apostolic of Jimma- Bonga – Ethiopian Catholic Church Bishop delegate for Peace and Justice desk in Ethiopia Bishop delegate for Religious issues in Ethiopia How to bridge our divisions and bring peace to the world